Playing Day With David Sanger
3 July 2004

Review by Jean Hill

Six generous CSO members exposed their playing to the scrutiny of virtuoso organist David Sanger and thanks to their willingness to do so, those of us in the audience were able to learn from Professor Sanger's feedback. The variety of pieces chosen was enjoyable:

Samuel Carradice, Largo - Flor Peeters
Christopher Price, A Song of Sunshine - Alfred Hollins
Clare Mingins, Sonata No 4 in B flat, Allegretto - Mendelssohn
Chris Bell, Scherzo in A flat - Edward Bairstow
Colin Rae, Trio Sonata No.2, 1st movement - J S Bach
Anne Emmett, Finale in D minor - Eric Thiman

Learning points included the following: Accuracy is preferable to speed. Watch for imitation, e.g. in pedal and alto parts - if one is played legato, keep it in the other (Thiman). Where no phrasing is indicated, imagine the piece is set to words - consider where you would breathe (Mendelssohn). Professor Sanger reminded us that learning a piece is a process of overcoming a series of musical 'problems', e.g. fingering, ornament-ation, phrasing, and that one way to practice is to deconstruct the piece, playing the parts separately, then right hand and pedal, left hand and pedal, both hands, and so on, until fluency is achieved. All points that bear repeating for novice and expert alike. As one of those novices I gained a useful practical tip - if a piece runs to eight pages, reduce it on a photocopier and tape it together as one! (eyesight permitting).

Colin Rae's witty closing remarks reminded us that no one should feel discouraged by the excellence of another or their own lack of it. Even a seemingly simple piece can pose challenges for the player keen to improve. Hospitality followed and the opportunity to socialise rounding off an informative and enjoyable evening.

If you are canvassed to play next time, be bold. You'll receive nothing but appreciation from your audience, and valuable guidance from Professor Sanger, even if you play 'Three Blind Mice.'

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